Its “Awards” season and I have been cramming in movies this week to get ready for the Golden Globes. Here are my thoughts in no particular order.
Joy (in theaters) doesn’t bring a lot of Joy. Unlike the other David O Russell movies with essentially the same cast, this one is pretty much all Jennifer Lawrence. She delivers as the woman who invented the Miracle Mop in the 1990s despite having a family that pretty much thwarted her at every step. It is a testament to her ability to “sell” that I immediately went home and googled the Miracle Mop to see if they are still being sold (they are). The rest of the cast (Di Niro, Cooper, Rossellini) just fades into the background around JLaw. She is the only reason to see this movie (and if you aren’t a JLaw fan then skip it), which eked out a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes although only 59% of the audience cared for it. Score: C+
Carol (in theaters) on the other hand is brilliantly acted by the two leads Cate Blanchett and Roomy Mara with great Directing, Cinematography, music and a fine screenplay. The love affair between these two women evolves slowly over the course of the two hours – I don’t even think they kiss until about an hour and a half into it – and is exquisitely played out. The Director captures the world of the 1950s so well and particularly, how gays would have had to communicate in a period of intolerance. The subtle looks and hand motions between these two women needed no words to understand. The supporting cast, including Kyle Chandler as Carol’s estranged husband does its job and the ending is pretty much perfect – like the movie. Score A-.
The Revenant (in theaters) is a movie that I normally would not go see due to its violence and the whole “tough white guy” thing. However, I do think Leonardo Di Caprio is long overdue for an Oscar and this is the year the Academy may actually give it to him so I figured what the heck, let me go see his performance. It was a brutal movie. The violence was non-stop with short periods of beautiful winter scenery interspersed. This movie takes place in the 1800s during the fur trading period in the west. Leonardo’s character is left for dead after a grueling bear attack and sees one of the men who left him kill his son. Miraculously, Leo survives and beings the long journey back to kill the man who murdered his son. DiCaprio is amazing and he says very little during the film – it’s all eyes and facial expressions with some heavy grunting. Leo’s performance A+; movie scores a B.
Infinitely Polar Bear (DVD/rental) is based on a true story about two girls growing up in 1970s Boston with a Bi-Polar father. A powerful performance in the lead role by Mark Ruffalo has gotten him a Golden Globe nomination. This is a poignant, often difficult movie to watch but as a tribute to her father, Maya Forbes has delivered a moving gift. After spending several great years in 1970s Boston and remembering the time with great fondness, I can’t help but rate this film a B-.
Clouds of Sils Maria (DVD/rental) is the French film for which Kristin Stewart won the Cesar (French Oscar) for best Supporting Actress. She was the first American to ever win the award. I have seen Stewart in the Twilight movies, and ”Still Alice” and felt that she was a pretty one-dimensional actress. Clearly she is not. This movie within a movie is most riveting when Stewart and Juliette Binoche trade lines for a play that also reflect their complex and evolving relationship. Both actresses are great as is the scenery in the Alps. I’d give it a B+.